Belgium gets mobile ID platform that will be supported on all SIM cards across the country

Itsme mobile ID
ALL IN ONE: The Itsme digital identity platform is being rolled out by the Belgian Mobile ID consortium

Four Belgian banks and three mobile network operators have unveiled a mobile ID platform that will let consumers use a single digital identity to access a range of services such as requesting government documents and confirming online transactions using the SIM card on their mobile phone and a unique five-digit code. The service is to be made compatible with all SIM cards across the country in the coming months.

The Belgian Mobile ID consortium — comprising Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, KBC/CBC, ING, Orange, Proximus and Telenet — will roll out the Itsme service on a “gradual” basis over the coming months. It is initially available with a range of companies including Bolero, ClearMedia, Doccle, EnCo, Randstad and Rombit.

“The federal government is also involved, making Itsme the first mobile identity app of its kind — extremely secure, easy to use and complies with digital privacy requirements,” the consortium says. “The app itself is secure on three counts — Itsme only works if you use your mobile phone, SIM card and personal Itsme code together. If just one of the three elements is missing, your digital identity is blocked immediately.

“With every action they carry out — logging in, confirming or signing — users are required to enter their secret Itsme code into their mobile phone. A single five-digit code is all it takes. So no more having to remember a username and password for each different website you visit. And if your smartphone features a fingerprint scanner, you can also work using a fingerprint.”

Multiple applications

“There are so many possible applications for Itsme — for example, you can easily become a new customer at a retailer, order meal vouchers, request documents from your local council, check your pension entitlements on MyPension, sign payment transactions on your home banking, secure your home or turn on the heating remotely,” the consortium continues.

“From the beginning of 2018, Itsme will offer users the ability to sign official documents via a mobile telephone, with the same binding value as a signature on paper. Over the coming months, all SIM cards on the Belgian market will be made compatible with Itsme. In most instances, you as a user won’t notice anything, although you may have to replace your SIM card.

“Also, if your SIM card is not yet ready to be used with Itsme, you will be able to create an account and conduct simple functions — such as logging in — in the interim. Then, as soon as your SIM card is up to date, you will be able to connect with it and access all of the many features and benefits of Itsme.”

“The concept of a mobile identity app fits perfectly with the ‘Digital Agenda’ of Minister Alexander De Croo, the aim of which is to digitise Belgium as quickly as possible,” the companies add. “The government has indicated that it wants to provide Itsme as an option for the mobile identification of citizens and companies — federally, regionally and locally.

“Itsme will not replace the eID card but your mobile ID (mID) is based entirely on the identity information stored in the eID card. So it is still the government that controls and guarantees identity.”

Identity guarantee

“The app enables you to log into websites quickly, confirm digital transactions and — coming soon — even sign official documents,” says Kris De Ryck, CEO of Belgian Mobile ID. “It’s like a second layer of protection.

“The banks are obliged by law to verify the formal identity of their customers, which provides a watertight identity guarantee — I am who I say I am. The mobile network operators guarantee a highly secure SIM card and mobile network.

“Discussions are currently underway with towns, cities and local authorities and public services, as well as with other public services such as the health sector and notaries. Lots of private service providers such as insurance companies, temporary employment agencies and the retail sector have already indicated their interest in the app.”

“What’s happening is that the security of the eID card is being transferred to the mobile world,” adds Minister of Security and the Interior Jan Jambon. “You will be able to use your mobile Itsme in all sorts of situations online, but not when it comes to actual physical checks — airports, borders etc. You’ll still need your plastic eID card for that.”